Nothing throws a wrench into the gears of your little one’s sleep routine quite like a trip to an unfamiliar destination. A day spent in the car or on a plane combined with a different bed and all new surroundings can wreak havoc on their nap schedule and their nighttime sleep, which leads to overtiredness and further challenges the next night.
Today, I have some (somewhat unorthodox) strategies to help you synchronize your travel time with baby’s naps and help them to get the best night’s sleep possible, even if it’s spent in a hotel room or a completely new location.
The holidays are right around the corner and every time of year where the holidays are right around the corner, I get a lot of emails from people wondering, how do I stay on track through travel? So I wanna give you some tips here today for minimizing any disruptions to your baby’s sleep schedule as much as we possibly can.
I find the number one mistake people make when they travel is that they overschedule themselves, right? You’ve got lots of people to see and places to go and you take baby with you everywhere you’re going, she’s missing a nap, she’s going to bed too late and a few days of that, when you try to put her down at bedtime, she might just scream the house down out of nowhere and then you start thinking, what’s going on, she never does this and you start to second-guess yourself and you get uncomfortable and your mother-in-law is staring at you like why are you letting her cry so much and you can quickly roll back all your progress and find yourself right back where you started.
So you have to remember that sleep is just as important as everything else. You wouldn’t drag her around all day and not feed her. That would make no sense to you. So you really need to honor and treat her sleep schedule in a very similar way. Now, if just once in a while she catches a nap in the stroller or the car or just a little bit late on bedtime maybe once or twice in the whole trip, that is not going to be the end of the world but a few days of that and it can quickly derail her and cause her to protest.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you really need to keep the environment as close to home as you possibly can especially if we’re talking about older babies like into the eight to 10 to 12 month age range. If they’re used to their own room at home, they’re gonna need some sort of own room experience when you travel as well. Now, that doesn’t have to be rent out a suite and give her her own room. It could be as simple as just putting the Pack ‘n Play in the bathroom or the closet or building a little fort around the Pack ‘n Play somewhere in the room because if she wakes up in the middle of the night and sees her two favorite people lying right next to her in the bed, it’s game over, right? She thinks it’s party time now and she’s gonna be up trying to engage you. Usually they’re being highly, highly adorable but it’s three o’clock in the morning and she won’t go back to sleep. So you need that own space, okay? So keep an eye on that while you travel. The next thing to remember is that you need to honor your expectations as well. If you expect her to fall asleep independently and sleep through the night then try not to let that shift and change when you travel either.
The first night somewhere new can be a little bit unnerving for the child and so I always say to people, you can bend your rules a little bit, maybe you sit at the door for the first night or two just to reassure her that everything is fine or maybe you do some extra check backs if she’s having a harder time settling down. That’s okay, you’re not interfering too much. You’re just adding a little bit of extra support in a situation that might feel a little uncomfortable to her and that’s absolutely fine but you just wouldn’t do things like bring your baby to bed with you or start nursing to sleep again or doing all the things that you’ve worked really hard to get yourself out of. Please don’t go back down that road. The good news is if you do and everything falls apart because sometimes it just does, right, and you find yourself, whoops, we messed that one up, now we’re home, what do we do?
Well, the good news is she knows how to do this. She’s got good skills. So it’s just a matter of dusting off your plan, getting back on track. A few nights, I usually suggest people speed up the plan. Just two nights, two nights, two nights and you’re out and remind her that she knows how to do this. She just forgot a little bit.
Alright, have a safe trip, everybody. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!